"Why don't you go back to school?" "Good luck with that, that's not going to be easy." "Why don't you go into publishing?" "Are you still going to do the writing thing?"
Every single day I'm surrounded by people who settled. People who graduated from college and had dreams or plans for themselves, but they got comfortable. Things got hard or they fell into the routine of decent money and they simply never moved on.
I work retail part time and the customers are consistently nosy. They ask how old I am, if I'm still in school and what it is I want to do for the rest of my life. When I tell them I'm a writer the mood shifts immediately. Their go to response? What are you going to do with that? When I don't have a clear answer they think they've solved all my problems with one simple resolution: Go back to school.
Let's humor them for a second. If I went back to school a number of things are bound to happen:
1. I'd have to continue working my part time job to not only to pay off past loans but to cover the cost of new school bills arriving. 2. I'd be further avoiding entering the real world by reverting back to the classroom, where I had no clear path or any guidance to begin with. And finally 3. I'd more than likely end up in career that I didn't want to begin with, but one that is more practical and financially cushioning.
When I started college all I knew was I would end up being an English major. I've spent my entire life devouring books and getting lost in stories of any kind. I've taken more than my fair share of writing and analytical reading classes to know and confidently proclaim that composing my own works of literature is what I'm meant to dedicate my life to.
When we're in elementary school the most common question asked is: What do you want to be when you grow up? During that point in our lives no one questions how we'll become astronauts or ballerinas or even movie stars. No one tells a 6 year old their dreams are impossible. No one walks into a first grade classroom and declares they can only pursue careers that will guarantee financial stability. So why, at 22 years old, are you doing everything you can to convince me that I won't make it?
Let me give you some known facts:
JK Rowling, the author of the world famous series Harry Potter, didn't get the first book in the series published until she was 33. That same book was rejected 12 times. Rowling was advised "not to quit her day job."
Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, was told to "stick to teaching."
Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star due to his editors belief that he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."
If every successful person gave up on their dream because it was "hard" we wouldn't have writers, artists, dancers, poets, etc. to create. Failure is inevitable. I'm not going to write a NY Times best seller my first time around, it's a fact I am very well aware of. But that doesn't mean it can't be a goal of mine to end up on that prestigious list. Hard is not synonymous with impossible. Nothing in life that's worth fighting for is easy. I'm going to have my own bumps in the road. There are going to be people who don't believe in my work. I am very much in tune with the idea of rejection. I might not be prepared for it, but I'm not naïve.
It is my prerogative to change my path. I choose whether or not I can handle being unsuccessful. But it is also my right to believe in my art. There is no harm in hope. How can I know I will fail if you don't give me the confidence to try?
My goal now, is not only to become a successful writer, but also, to prove you wrong. If it was going to be easy, I would have done it already.
Here is my challenge for all the non believers in your life: Stop making us feel small for going after things that seem "unrealistic" or aren't "practical." Stop pushing us to kill our own dreams. Don't diminish the light in our underdeveloped souls. At 6 years old you claim we can reach for the stars, when does that support and encouragement turn into a lack of faith and doubt in who you taught us to be?
And to you, the fearless, wild, bold adventurous soul: Never ever give up on yourself. People will talk and they won't always understand you, and that's okay. No one has permission to break you unless you let them, so run with your dream and ambitions, they will guide you to your destiny.
"So parents, tell your kids every day that they're different, they're special, they're unique , they can do whatever they want with their lives." -Taylor Swift
Never forget the essence of your spark!